The Supreme Court has on Friday granted ad-interim bail to comedian Munawar Faruqui, in relation to a case registered against him by the Madhya Pradesh Police, for allegedly insulting religious sentiments.
The bench comprising of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and BR Gavai issued notice to Madhya Pradesh police on a plea by Munawar Faruqui, who sought interim bail in the case while observing that the law laid down by the Supreme Court in its 2014 judgment in ‘Arnesh Kumar vs. the State of Bihar’ was not followed and also the procedure under Section 41 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was not complied with.
The 2014 decision cited that proper facts and reasons should be presented before a magistrate by the officer within 24 hours of the arrest. The magistrate, in turn, is to be satisfied that the condition precedent for arrest under Section 41 Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) has been satisfied and it is only thereafter that he will authorize the detention of an accused.
Therefore, while granting ad-interim bail to Faruqui, the top court also stayed the production warrant of Uttar Pradesh Police against him, in a separate case.
Munawar Faruqui’s Arrest
Faruqui and four others were arrested by the Madhya Pradesh Police on January 1, following a complaint by the son of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator, alleging that Faruqui had passed objectionable remarks about Hindu deities and Union home minister Amit Shah during a comedy show at a cafe in Indore on the New Year’s Day.
The Sessions Court, as well as the Madhya Pradesh High Court, had earlier rejected Faruqui’s bail plea while observing that “The Court refrains from commenting upon contentions of the parties touching on merits but, regard being had to the material seized and the statements of the witnesses and that the investigation is in progress, no case is made out for grant of bail.”
Madhya Pradesh High Court Ruling
Earlier on 28th January, the Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court dismissed the bail applications filed by stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui and co-accused Nalin Yadav, who have been reportedly arrested for allegedly hurting religious sentiments during their comic show.
The single-judge bench of the HC, Justice Rohit Arya had while dismissing the bail pleas, observed that the evidence collected till now shows that “outraging religious feelings of a class of citizens of India with deliberate intendment” were made by the applicants.
“The evidence/material collected so far, suggest that in an organized public show under the garb of standup comedy at a public place on commercial lines, prima facie; scurrilous, disparaging utterances, outraging religious feelings of a class of citizens of India with deliberate intendment, were made by the applicants,” said Justice Arya.
“There is also a specific assertion by the learned counsel for the complainant that the applicant along with other co-accused persons allegedly making outraging filthy jokes in social media deliberately against Hindu Gods, Lord Shriram, and Goddess Seeta hurting religious sentiments of Hindus for the last 18 months despite, protest on various social media platforms. There is nothing on record to the contrary,” the court stated.
“In the light of the statements of the complainant and the witnesses referred above, the seized articles, viz., video footage of the show and the seizure memos detailed above, at this stage, it is difficult to countenance to the submissions of the learned counsel for the applicant as the complacency of the applicant cannot be ruled out, besides vulnerability of his acts in the public domain,” observed the HC.